PBL at Imperial!

I was chatting with my friends about PBL today and it got me thinking about the different views I had on PBL before I came to ICSM and how its changed.

PBL is Problem Based Learning. At Imperial I have been taught in this way for one of my modules (funnily enough the module is called…PBL). It is basically a 2-3 hour session every 2 weeks in which you meet up with your extended tutor group of 10 people and a tutor and go through a case.

For example:

In the first session we all read through the case below and talk about it…

Mrs Iron has come to A & E with a swollen red hand after doing some domestic jobs. Mrs Iron has a high temperature of 38’C and has subsequently drank a lot of water at home before coming to A & E. She says she feels that she is going through “phases” of emotions including “silky” and “eco-friendly”. You are a junior and your consultant asks you what your thoughts are about this case. “

After discussing the above as a group, you split up the tasks at hand to go away and research for the next week where you all present bits of the case. For example I would probably go away and research the side effects of having a high temperature, another team member may go away and look at the mental illnesses that could lead a person to think they were an object…etc.

In first year PBL was fortnightly and the end of year essay in PBL was 1/5 of our total year grade, although the sessions did not count towards our passing/failing. In this second year I have found PBL to be a lot more sporadic, ie I could have my second session a few weeks after the first session. We also have moved onto even writing cases for each other to use. This year PBL does not count towards our final year score.

There is a lot of distrust by A level students about PBL when they choose medical schools. However, I think it’s actually a really interesting addition to the course when it is done like Imperial do it. I would never be able to cope with PBL replacing lectures as it does in some medical schools, but it really does give you another way to learn and discuss alongside lectures- it’s a welcomed change! I have learnt bits and bobs from PBL that will definitely help me in later years, as it gives you the option to think a bit more clinically in the pre-clinical years.

Anyway, all I really wanted to say was do not say no to a uni just because it has some PBL component. We learn using lecture style but having PBL fortnightly is super interesting to supplement this. Maybe think twice if PBL would the only way you will learn though at a uni (but this is just a personal opinon!).




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